Re: Anthropology of Science

Allan Dunn (adunn@LCLARK.EDU)
Tue, 3 Oct 1995 18:38:44 -0700

On Tue, 3 Oct 1995, Brian Michael Howell wrote:

> On Tue, 3 Oct 1995, Jay Kotliar wrote:
> > Is science an inherently a sexist institution? There are sexist scientists,
> > there are sexist institutions devoted to science, but I am not as yet
> > convinced that science itself as a cosmological institution is in itself
> > sexist. I know it is fashionable these days in our society to discuss "male"
> > and "female" patterns of thought-but I find much of this categorization is
> > too simplistic, overly broad, and does not account for the wide variety of
> > personalities within genders and the overlap between genders. I am getting
> > irritated with gneral broadsides against science in anthropology-is
> > postmodern anthropology contributing anything beyond a critique?
> >
> What postmodernity offers is the notion that science is not a
> "cosmological category". "Science" is every bit as subject its social
> context as art and religion.
And how does this notion contribute in a meaningful way? If science is
as subjective as art and religion (and I believe that you are half-right;
the concepts of all three realms of ideas contribute to each other),
then the concepts explored in science would change as they were being
studied. The laws explored three centuries ago have not changed because
our ideas have changed (gravity is not subject to our whim and we do not
fly like birds in the sky), they have served as foundations to make new
laws, that describe the universe in a more objective manner.
The scary part is that elemental physics and behavioral science
are both discovering that science may be more subjective than we once
thought. It becomes really circular when you think that their ideas may
have been infuenced by the zeitgeist (don't you hate that word!) of
postmodernism. Maybe the idea of subjective context vs. objective ideal
is meaningless. The chicken or the egg, the chicken or the egg!